Rice farmers call on gov’t to ban rice importation

| Updated Mar 02, 2017 at 11:00pm



Thousands of tons of local rice are presently sitting the northern part of Ghana without market.

The situation, the rice farmers explained will have a negative impact on their fortunes and also prevent them from farming during the next farming season.

This is due to the fact that the farmers will have to generate additional revenue from other sources to settle their indebtedness to the financial institutions from whom they received credit from during the previous farming year.

An acre of rice farm requires between GH¢1,500 and GH¢2,000 to cultivate, hence the situation has put thousands of farmers out of business, although the government on a number of occasions have vowed to revamp the industry.

According to the farmers bad road network, delayed harvesting, improper harvesting, threshing, drying and storage handling issues are some major challenges they face.

This came to light when the leadership of the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute, SARI, and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, CSIR, toured their eighteen Rice Seed Scaling project demonstration sites in the Navrongo municipality.

The CSIR-SARI Technician at the Seed scaling project sponsored by USAID and implemented by AfricaRice and SARI in the Navrongo Municipality,

Alfred Acquah has expressed satisfaction about the performance of farmers at the demonstration sites of the Rice Seed Scaling project.

The move is expected to improve their livelihoods by increasing the competitiveness of domestic rice to meet the increasing regional demand.

The investment will also see to the increment of productivity and quality of paddy rice, increase the efficiency of local rice sourcing, processing and marketing. The Savanna Agricultural Research Institute, SARI, is one of the 13 Research Institutes under the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

The Council, founded in 1957 involves more than 600 scientists in the fields of agriculture, fishery, forestry, industry, environment and health.

SARI’s mandate is to provide small scale farmers in the Northern, upper East and Upper West regions with appropriate innovation/option/technology to increase their food production base on a sustainable production system, which maintains and/or increasing soil fertility.

The research mandate also includes the development of appropriate cropping systems, varieties of crops such as maize, groundnut, Bambara, cotton and vegetables crops which are adapted to the needs of farmers in the different ecologies of northern Ghana.

SARI is well endowed with highly trained research scientists.

Their contribution to the advancement of scientific knowledge in their specialized fields has been acclaimed at the international level through special awards and citations from world-renowned scientific bodies and association.

Ghana is generally regarded as one of the more successful examples of an economic turnaround in sub-Saharan Africa.

From an over bureaucratic centralised state which led to a currency collapse in the late 1970s, Ghana has become a relative island of political stability and is thus encouraging inward investment. According to Mr. Acquah, small holder rice yields are quite low at 1 to 1.5 metric tonnes per hectare, which further affects incomes.

Key bottlenecks in the rice value chain include lack of irrigated land, poor access to quality seed material, farmers’ inability to pay for necessary inputs, sub-standard agricultural practices and cropping techniques, poor post-harvest handling, and lack of mechanisation, which will decrease unit costs.

The objective of CSIR-SARI is to significantly improve the livelihoods of rice farming small holder households in selected countries in the sub-region by increasing competitiveness of domestic rice supply to meet increasing regional demand.

The SARI program is confident that by the end of 2017, the program can be scaled up with the right systems and strong collaborations with its partners, leading to an improvement in the incomes and livelihoods of rice farmers and building sustainable solutions for the rice industry as a whole.

A farmer at the Korania demonstration site, George Adongo, commended CSIR-SARI for their support. He said the rice seed scaling project has improve their livelihoods and call on government and benevolent organizations to provide them with combined harvesters.

He advised his fellow farmers to plant Agra to enable them increase their production.